Here are a few of the many books being unpacked in our libraries this month. If you don’t see what you want on the shelves, you can request books at the your library or online through our catalogue.
These two fascinating non-fiction books will be going on my reading list.
Lucy Worsley Jane Austen at Home
This telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the way in which home is used in her novels to mean both a place of pleasure and a prison.
Annie Gray The Greedy Queen
This is both a biography of Britain’s most iconic monarch, and a look at the changing nature of cooking and eating in the Victorian era. From her early years living on milk and bread under the Kensington system, to her constant indigestion and belligerent over-eating as an elderly woman, her diet will be examined, likes and dislikes charted, and the opinions of those around her considered.
Literary event of the month is surely the publication of a new novel by the author of Nora Webster and Brooklyn. Here he turns to Greek tragedy.
Colm Toibin House of Names
On the day of his daughter’s wedding, Agamemnon orders her sacrifice. His daughter is led to her death, and Agamemnon leads his army into battle, where he is rewarded with glorious victory. Three years later, he returns home and his murderous action has set the entire family – mother, brother, sister – on a path of intimate violence.
We featured Laline Paull’s debut novel The Bees as a Readers Group book. Now it’s time for that difficult second novel.
It’s the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body. An electrifying story of friendship, power and betrayal
The second novel in the Six Tudor Queens series. Can Alison Weir offer a new take on Anne Boleyn?
Alison Weir Anne Boleyn. A Royal Obsession
An unforgettable portrait of the ambitious woman whose fate we know all too well, but whose true motivations may surprise you. Fresh from the cultivated hothouse of Renaissance France, Anne draws attention at the English court. A nobleman, a poet and a king vie for her love. She has a spirit worthy of a crown – and a crown is what she seeks.
Stories linked to My Name is Lucy Barton but this can be read as a standalone book if you haven’t read it.
Elizabeth Strout Anything is possible
Years ago, Lucy Barton, a successful New York writer, spent time in hospital, with her mother at the foot of her bed to keep her company. Avoiding the distance between them, they spoke at length about people from their home town, the rural, dusty town of Amgash, Illinois. Writing these stories, Lucy imagines the lives of the people that she especially remembers. And the people she has imagined that, in small ways, have remembered her too. For isn’t it true that we all hope to be remembered? Or to think in some way – even fleetingly – that we have been important to someone?
While you wait for Paula Hawkins new book Into the Water, here are two alternative psychological thrillers to try.
Christobel Kent The Day She Disappeared
Have you ever had that sense that you’re being watched? And you turn, suddenly, but it’s just a curtain, blowing in the wind? Or the dress hanging in the doorway? Nat knows something’s wrong. Her best friend, Beth, would never have upped and left without saying goodbye to her. But no one believes that Beth was taken – she is a fly-by-night, a party girl who can’t be trusted. No one’s listening to Nat. But someone is definitely watching her.
Claire Kendall The Second Sister
Ten years ago, Ella’s sister Miranda vanished without trace. Now thirty, the same age as Miranda when she disappeared, Ella has grown to look dangerously like the missing woman. Ella becomes convinced that the man who took Miranda is watching her family. To Ella, this is an opportunity as much as a prospect of fear. It makes her more determined than ever to find out what happened to the beautiful and mysterious Miranda. Because who better than a sister to see what the police overlooked and to understand the missing woman?
The Hogarth Shakespeare series continues with Tracy Chevalier’s take on Othello.
Tracy Chevalier New Boy
Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.
And out in paperback this month:
Eowyn Ivey To the Bright Edge of the World
Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.
Sarah Perry The Essex Serpent
London 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Retreating to the countryside with her son, she encounters rumours of the ‘Essex Serpent‘, a creature of folklore said to have returned to roam the marshes. Setting out on its trail, she collides with local minister William Ransome, who thinks the cure for hysteria lies in faith, while Cora is convinced that science offers the answers. Despite disagreeing on everything, he and Cora find themselves drawn together, changing each other’s lives in unexpected ways.
I was pleased to see that A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker has been shortlisted for both the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. Jo visited Wakefield in 2014 to talk about her novel Longbourn and we loved meeting her.
Susan Elliot Wright was introduced to us by Read Regional in 2014. She talked about her novel Things We Never Said. She has since published Secrets We Left Behind and her latest book What She Lost came out a few weeks ago.
Sarah Stovell spoke at the same event as Susan. Her novel was a historical novel, the fascinating Night Flower. Her next book is a psychological thriller set in the Lake District. Exquisite will be published on 15th June .
Stronger Than Skin by Stephen May was published in March and there are some very positive reviews on Amazon from readers. Stephen was a guest at Wakefield Lit Fest in 2014 talking about Wake Up Happy Every Day.
Caroline Roberts started a new series after she spoke to us about The Torn Up Marriage last year. The Cosy Teashop in the Castle and the Cosy Christmas Teashop were popular reads and her next novel My Summer of Magic Moments is due on 1st June
Another Lit Fest guest was Laura Barnett talking about her bestselling book The Versions of Us. I’m looking forward to her next novel Greatest Hits which will be published on 15 June. Will it have the same success as her debut novel?
If you live in Airedale or Ferry Fryston and have a baby born after 1 September 2016, you could join this fantastic scheme. Come along to the Community Fair on 3 May to find out more and sign up.
For anyone having trouble getting a baby or toddler to go to sleep at night, the simple regular routine of Bath-Book-Bed can be a great help.
To help families find out about Bath Book Bed and get ideas for great stories to share, libraries are holding special bed-time story times 24 – 28 April. So slip on the dressing gown and slippers, pick up the teddy and come along to snuggle up for stories!
Full list of story times taking place:
|Airedale||The Square, Airedale, Castleford, WF10 3JJ|
|Storytime||Mon 24 April||10-11am|
|Castleford Forum||Carlton St, Castleford, WF10 1BB|
|Storytime||Thurs 27 April||10-11am|
|Featherstone||Victoria St, Off Station Rd, Featherstone, WF7 5BB|
|Storytime||Thurs 27 April||10-10.30am|
|Hemsworth||Market St, Hemsworth, WF9 4JY|
|Storytime||Mon 24 April||9.30-10.30am|
|Baby Rhymetime||Fri 28 April||10-10.30am|
|Horbury||Westfield Rd, Horbury, WF4 6HP|
|Storytime||Fri 28 April||2.15-3pm|
|Normanton||Market St, Normanton, WF6 2AR|
|Storytime||Thurs 27 April||10.15-10.45am|
|Storytime||Fri 28 April||10.15-10.45am|
|Ossett||Ossett Town Hall, Market Place, Ossett, WF5 8EB|
|(Temporary site)||Storytime||Fri 28 April||10.30-11am|
|Pontefract||Shoemarket, Pontefract, WF8 1BD|
|Storytime||Mon 24 April||10-11am|
|Storytime||Wed 26 April||10-11am|
|Sandal||Sparable Lane, Sandal, WF1 5JL|
|Storytime||Wed 26 April||10.30-11am|
|South Elmsall||Barnsley Rd, South Elmsall, WF9 2AA|
|Storytime||Tues 25 April||9.30-10.30am|
|Stanley||Lake Lock Road, Stanley, WF3 4HU|
|Storytime||Mon 24 April||11.30-12pm|
|Wakefield||Wakefield One, Burton St, Wakefield, WF1 2DA|
|Storytime||Tues 25 April||1.30-2pm|
|Storytime||Fri 28 April||10-10.30am|
The sun is out and tempting book lovers to enjoy their latest read in the garden. Here are some of the many titles we are buying for our libraries in April.
Arnaldur Idridason The Shadow District
First in a new series from the Icelandic novelist introduces Konrad, a former detective bored with retirement. When a 90-year-old man is found murdered, police find newspaper cuttings about a murder case dating from the Second World War. Konrad remembers the crime. Why would someone be interested now?
Lindsey Davis The Third Nero
The latest mystery for fans Lindsey Davis and Flavia Alba, every bit as good as her Falco series. Flavia Albia’s day-old marriage is in trouble – her new husband may be permanently disabled and they have no funds. So when Palace officials ask her to help expose a plotter in their midst she is obliged to accept.
Lisa McInerney The Blood Miracles
From the winner of last year’s Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction, described as a ‘glorious, foul-mouthed, fizzing new talent’. The further misadventures of Ryan Cusack as he negotiates an unhappy girlfriend, a drug dealing boss and a shipment of ecstasy pills.
Fiona Neill Becoming Strangers
Nell Stone is at the peak of her career. Living alone, she is focused, refusing to let her personal life creep into her professional one. So when Nell receives a letter from Sadie, an old friend, she finds herself in the hardest position of all. Because what Sadie did to Nell years before is unthinkable, and unforgivable. But should the cost of Sadie’s betrayal be her life?
Claire North The End of the Day
Her debut novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, was a Richard and Judy piack and a big hit. In this new novel, Charlie meets everyone – but only once. Charlie gets everywhere. Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. Either way, this is going to be the most important meeting of your life.
Claire Sandy A Not Quite Perfect Family.
From the author of What Would Mary Berry Do? Fern Carlile has a lot on her plate. It’s a good thing she loves her big, imperfectly perfect family, because she’s the one who washes their pants, de-fleas the dog and runs her own business. A hearty meal is the one thing that brings the Carliles together – but over the course of a year, the various courses also pull them apart. Will Fern’s marriage be over by the time coffee is served? Perhaps she’ll give in and have the hot new dish that looks so tempting.
Nicholas Searle A Traitor in the Family
Francis O’Neill is a terrorist, trained to kill for his cause. Bridget is his wife, expected to be loyal and stand by her husband. She has learned not to hope for much more, until the day she glimpses, for the first time, the chance of a new life. A life without violence, without secrets, and without knocks on the door in the dead of night. A life without her husband. A second novel from the author of The Good Liar.
And a few new non-fiction titles:
Ian Mortimer The Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain
This volume tells you everything you’d need to know as a prospective traveller to seventeenth-century Britain.
Cherry Lewis The Enlightened Mr Parkinson
Parkinson‘s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia, and yet few know anything about the man the disease is named after. In 1817 James Parkinson defined the disease so precisely that we still diagnose it today by recognising the symptoms he identified. Here, the story of this remarkable man’s contributions to the Age of the Enlightenment is told through his three passions – medicine, politics and fossils.
Alys Fowler Hidden Nature
Leaving her garden to the mercy of the slugs, award-winning writer Alys Fowler set out in an inflatable kayak to explore Birmingham’s canal network, full of little-used waterways where huge pike skulk and kingfishers dart. Her book is about noticing the wild everywhere and what it means to see beauty where you least expect it. What happens when someone who has learned to observe her external world in such detail decides to examine her internal world with the same care? Beautifully written, honest and very moving, ‘Hidden Nature‘ is also the story of Alys Fowler‘s emotional journey: above all, this book is about losing and finding, exploring familiar places and discovering unknown horizons.
Storytelling can be a scary business. A bit of planning, plenty of practice and bucketloads of enthusiasm can make all the difference, says Simon Bond, Library Assistant at Pontefract Library, guesting at Bookstart blog
See more here: Hints and tips for storytellers | Bookstart
When international lawyer Philippe Sands received an invitation to deliver a lecture in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, he began to uncover a series of extraordinary historical coincidences. It set him on a quest that would take him halfway around the world in an exploration of the origins of international law and the pursuit of his own secret family history, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg trial.
Part historical detective story, part family history, part legal thriller, Philippe Sands guides us between past and present as several interconnected stories unfold in parallel. The first is the hidden story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who discover, only at the end of the trial, that the man they are prosecuting may be responsible for the murder of their entire families in Nazi-occupied Poland, in and around Lviv. The two prosecutors, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, were remarkable men, whose efforts led to the inclusion of the terms ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ in the judgement at Nuremberg. The defendant, Hans Frank, Hitler’s personal lawyer and Governor-General of Nazi-occupied Poland, turns out to be an equally compelling character.
The lives of these three men lead Sands to a more personal story, as he traces the events that overwhelmed his mother’s family in Lviv and Vienna during the Second World War. At the heart of this book is an equally personal quest to understand the roots of international law and the concepts that have dominated Sands’ work as a lawyer. Eventually, he finds unexpected answers to his questions about his family, in this meditation on the way memory, crime and guilt leave scars across generations, and the haunting gaps left by the secrets of others.
Also on the shortlist were
Svetlana Alexievich, Second-hand Time (translated by Bela Shayevich), a book about the collapse of the USSR and post-Soviet society based on the stories of ordinary men and women.
Margo Jefferson, Negroland: A Memoir. Margo Jefferson spent her childhood among Chicago’s black elite. With privilege came expectation. Reckoning with the strictures and demands of the society she calls ‘Negroland’ at crucial historical moments – the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of post-racial America – Jefferson charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions.
Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between. Hisham Matar was nineteen when his father was kidnapped and taken to prison in Libya. He would never see him again. Twenty-two years later, the fall of Gaddafi meant he was finally able to return to his homeland. In this memoir, the author takes us on an illuminating journey, both physical and psychological; a journey to find his father and rediscover his country.
With Halloween only a few days away, here are some suggestions for books to send a cold finger down your spine.
Helen Dunmore The Greatcoat. A 1950s ghost story novella from this wonderful writer
Susan Hill The Small Hand. If you’ve already read The Woman in Black, try this from the same author
Stephen King Doctor Sleep. King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of ‘The Shining’, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. So will you..
M.R. James Ghost Stories – classic ghost stories creating menace and terror
Shirley Jackson. The Haunting of Hill House. “Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Bram Stoker Dracula. The original and best Vampire story. Add a trip to Whitby for a perfectly haunting weekend.
Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Original, clever and eerie. Should you read the book or see the film first?
Henry James. The Turn of the Screw. What’s not said and seen is more always frightening..
Catriona Ward Rawblood A haunting gothic novel from our current #HauntingReads promotion
Michelle Paver. Thin Air. Her last ghost novel Dark Matter set in the Arctic was excellent. Can she chill us again with this novel set in the Himalayas? Part of our #HauntingReads promotion